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What do you do if you're the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and your soloist has to cancel less than two weeks before one of your biggest shows of the year? You call an old friend and make some lemonade.
Alex Boyé, former boy-band frontman, current YouTube star and veteran of the Tabernacle Choir in the interim, incredulously described how, the morning after a choir performance popped up in his Facebook memories, music director Mack Wilberg called to ask whether he could pinch hit for former "Hamilton" star Christopher Jackson, who'd been sidelined by his commitment to a television series. "I about fell off my chair," Boyé recalled, but he gamely jumped in.
He sang one of Jackson's numbers from the Disney hit "Moana," crooned a medley of hits popularized by his boyhood idol Nat King Cole and brought down the house with the spiritual "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me" a song he has sung several times (and recorded) with the choir. He also delivered exuberant renditions of two songs from "The Lion King," complete with a Rafiki-inspired feather collar.
Already in possession of a distinctive gospel-pop voice, Boyé clearly paid attention during his seven years in the choir as well, with his training evident in his high notes and breath control.
The choir, under the direction of Wilberg and associate conductor Ryan Murphy, sang enthusiastic backup and gave a few well-polished performances of its own, most memorably on a bristling "Battle of Jericho." The Orchestra at Temple Square got a chance to shine in a performance of the finale from Félix-Alexandre Guilmant's Symphony No. 2 with principal organist Richard Elliott, who again brought the Conference Center throng to its feet.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The annual Pioneer Day concerts, featuring soloist Alex Boyé.
When • Reviewed Friday, July 14; repeats Saturday, July 15, 8 p.m.
Where • LDS Conference Center, 60 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • The free passes have all been distributed, but choir officials encourage interested listeners to try the standby line at the north gate of Temple Square
Running time • About 90 minutes; no intermission
Tune in • Live-streaming at motab.org/pioneerday